Is your job causing your depression? Here’s a way to find out

All of us know what it is like to have work-related stress, to have issues falling asleep because of work, or to have those periods where you just can’t bear the thought of going into the office. Thankfully, generally speaking, these are temporary periods that fade.

But, what if it’s something more?

Allow me to introduce you to what might be the most depression survey you’ve heard of in a while: The Occupational Depression Inventory, a tool designed to help, “quantify the severity of work-attributed depressive symptoms and establish provisional diagnoses of job-ascribed depression.”

Sigh.

A new survey about the ODI claims that it, “showed strong reliability and high factorial validity.” This means that it can reliably determine if someone is showing depressive symptoms as a result of workplace issues. It consists of ten statements, such as, “My work was so stressful that I could not enjoy the things that I usually like doing” and “My experience at work made me feel like a failure.” Survey takers are supposed to rate their agreement with the statements on a scale of 0-3, with 0 meaning never or almost never and 3 meaning nearly every day. A higher score means more of a chance that your work is responsible for causing your depression.

So, what do you do if you score high? Learn to cope?

Gah. I mean, look, the fact that this tool exists, and that there is enough of a demand for it, shows that we might be at a point in society where we need to reexamine our priorities. Obviously I get the need for it, and it makes perfect sense. But, as I’ve said time and time again on this blog, we have to remember that societal facets are often a huge factor in causing depression, and I worry that this is something we have lost sight of. 

I don’t mean this as a knock on the ODI or the people who developed it. It is clear there is a need for such a survey, and perhaps this survey can help people make more positive psychological changes to their lives. But what it doesn’t address is what happen when someone is at a job because they have zero financial choice and no other skills. It doesn’t deal with the fact that our society safety net, job retraining options and educational systems are all woefully inadequate. It doesn’t address the non-stop financial pressure that we all feel in order to provide for our kids, our parents, ourselves, our debt…nada. And this is why so many people stay at dead end jobs, get depressed and then take a survey like the ODI. 

For the millionth time, as a society, we have to make a choice. If we want to reduce depression, for real, we have to reduce the causes of depression, and that is often financial stress and the non-stop fear of what happens if someone loses employment. There is so, so much more to depression than mental health! This is more proof of the truth behind that statement. 

 

My most-read blog entries of the year

I have to say, I really enjoyed the blog this year. After letting it go for months, I picked it up again and have consistently tried to create useful and interesting content. It’s also helped me expand my horizons and think about mental health in a different way.

This year also saw the publication of Redemptionan experience which has given me more joy than I ever could have realized – and an experience which was borne of my own depression. Take note, reader: You can get immeasurable joy out of sadness.

That being said, most importantly, I hope what I wrote has helped you.

So, here’s a look at the five blog entries I wrote which seemed to be the most popular. My year in review, if you will.

5) Ties That Bind: Liberals, Conservatives & Mental Health: This is the only “top five” entry which dealt specifically with public policy. It dealt with the challenges facing Democrats/Republicans, urban/rural areas and how mental health remains a huge challenge in all of these sections of the country.

4) Redemption, by Mike Schlossberg, is Almost Available: Alright, this one was blatantly self-promotional 🙂

3) The Tragic Suicides of Kate Spade & Anthony Bourdain: Within a few days, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain killed themselves. I wrote this blog entry just after the news broke about Bourdain, largely motivated by a very real fear about the contingent effect when someone does kill themselves. It was my immediate thoughts on what to do and how to help those who are suffering.

2) How To Stay Hopeful in a World Filled With Darkness: This entry was one of the most painful ones I have ever done, and like the one above, it was in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy – specifically the Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh. The crux of this entry was how anyone can stay hopeful and optimistic in a world where gloom and doom have become so powerful.

1) How Vacation Can Make You Depressed, and What You Can Do About It: This entry was inspired by my own upcoming vacation – and the depression which often accompanied it. What was most interesting about this one to me is that this one has seen a slow and steady increase in hits after the entry was posted back in late July. It did okay at first, but then the views just grew and grew. I suppose it’s good to know that I’m not the only one who sometimes feels this way.

It has been a wonderful year, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk to you. I wish you a happy, peaceful and restorative New Year. See you in 2019!